At the beginning of this dance, if you hear the dancers shout," chuck, chuck, chuck" they don't mean to call a guy named "Chuck". The dancers makes sounds like these (or in Balinese language it is cak, cak, cak, since we read the words as it is written) in order to imitate the Balinese musical instrument.
This dance does not use any form of musical instrument. Instead it uses sounds combination which is made by all the dancers. (The number of dancers can be fifty to one hundred ) It may appear like a choir.
Kecak dance was created by Wayan Limbak in around 1930 with Walter Spies, a German painter who lived in Bali. The dance was ispired by Sang Hyang Dance (a kind of trance dance where the dancer is possesed by achestral spirit).
The Kecak dance alway tells a story of Ramayana. It is a journey of Prince Rama and his wife Sitha, along with his brother, Laksmana, who together go to the forest. In the forest, Sitha sees a golden deer, and pleaded Rama to capture the golden deer.
Rama goes away to chase the deer after telling laxman not to leave Sitha alone while he is gone. But after sometime, Rama does not come back. It makes Sitha worried.
Not known to the three, the Golden deer is actually a giant who with his magical power can turn himself into animal. This guy work for an evil character, Rahwan, who likes Rama's wife, Sitha.
Sitha managed to make Laxman to go after Rama. Though dissapprovingly, he goes because he is angry with what Sita says. Sitha accuses him trying to take a advantage of Rama's missing.
Before going away to find Rama, Laxmana draws a magical circle around Sitha to protect her. She is advised not to go out from the circle at all cost!
Rahwana, "the bad guy", shows up, and this time he transforms himself to like an old man who beggs for help.
Sitha is protected by magical circle, but because this old man pleading for help, Sitha forgets his warning and she goes out from the circle to help the old man.
As soon as she gets out, the old man turn himself back to Rahwana and kidnaps Sitha to Alengka (his kingdom).
Realizing what happens, Rama and Laxmana, helped by the monkey god (Hanuman) with his monkey troops, go to Alengka to free Sitha. Hanuman was sent to Alengka first on his own to send a message to Sitha telling her that Rama is coming to free her.
Hanoman creates chaos in Alengka by burning a lot of house buildings. On the Kecak dance, the dancers use coconuts husks in the shape of little balls to make fire. The dancer who acts as Hanuman kicks these balls of fires to every direction. This is quite fantastic (you can see this only in Uluwatu Kecak dance).
At the end, there is a fight between Rama and Rahwana. Finally, as you can guess, Rama wins and takes Sitha back.
And that' s the story of the Kecak dance.
The Kecak dancers, can also become the musical background, but can be the monkey army troops,or even the snake that bind Rama and Laxmana. (The snake was released by one of the giant with his magic arrow).
It is a very interesting dance, with unusual way of presenting of story. This is especially if you watch it at Uluwatu temple. They present the story in an uncommon way because it involves the spectators. If watching at the stage in Uluwatu in the evening, you might be startled to find out that the guy sitting next to you is Hanoman (the monkey God).
So, I recommend you to watch the Kecak dance at Uluwatu temple. The scenery is just beautiful with the cliff and the temple at the background.
Kecak dance is also performed at Batubulan village. Here it is usually combined with two other dances which is the Sang Hyang dedari dance and the Fire Dance. If you prefer to watch the three dances, then, Batu Bulan is your choice.